My Holiday Reading – an Exposé

I have a lot of down time when we visit the UK for Christmas, partly because of airplanes, and partly because at my in-laws there’s really nothing else to do except watch TV or go to the pub. So, I thought I’d entertain you all with an honest summary of the books I read over the two week vacation–some highbrow, and some less so. [Note: all the links are Amazon Associate links].

The Books I’d Forgotten I Had on my Kindle

1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: Earlier this year I read–and loved Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson so I assumed I’d love this, her latest novel, just as much. However I found it very slow going. Stuck on a plane having gone through my other reading options, I thought I’d give it another go and was pleasantly rewarded. It’s a very quiet novel, but beautifully written and with some wonderfully wise words such as, “It is seldom indeed that any wrong one suffers is not thoroughly foreshadowed by wrongs one has done.” ****

2.The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut Series): Again, this summer I read Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut Series)for the first time, largely because of its importance to The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence, a book I heartily recommend. I enjoyed Vonnegut and read a few more, but found them to be too similar. Still, when Amazon popped one of those sly emails my way on Vonnegut’s birthday, offering me any of his books on my Kindle for 99c, I was swayed. The verdict: still too similar. **

The New Quirky British Detective Series

3. Where the Bodies Are Buried: Christopher Brookmyre has long been a personal favorite, and has written several other sequences of detective novels built around the same cast of typically Scottish characters. This is totally up to snuff–enjoyable, fast-paced, and well-characterized. ****

4. When the Devil Drives: The sequel. It had to be done! It’s just as good, and I enjoyed seeing the female lead character develop. ****

The Ones That Caught My Eye

5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: an excellent and thought-provoking book set in the Australian suburbs that is significantly better than either its title or its author’s reputation suggest. This one will stay with you. *****


6. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann: I literally saw a poster for this book at Manchester airport, and seeing as I love the Wallace Stevens poem, “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock,” I thought I’d give it a whirl. I found it highly readable, if not particularly literary, but its evocation of post-war New England is very well done, plus it raises some interesting moral questions. ****

Trash Vampire/Urban Fantasy Escapism

7. Omens: A Cainsville Novel by Kelley Armstrong: Those who know me well know this is my drug of choice, and Armstrong is one of my goto authors. This first of a new series augurs well, although alas I’ll need to wait until August for the next installment. ****

8. Some Girls Bite: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill This is also the first in a series, the difference being that the series already has some 10+ books in it. I wasn’t particularly impressed by this one, but fortunately for Ms. Neill I read the fourth in the series first (See below). **

And Finally, the Desperate Paperbacks

9. Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 4)As you can see, I do read a lot on vacation, which is why I try to keep everything on my iPad when I travel. However, I also get caught short i.e. about to get on a plane with zero charge/nothing downloaded, and so occasionally grab a book. I grabbed this and found it right up my alley (as TV/UFE). Clearly the author had improved by the 4th book. Whether I’ll go back and read the intervening books remains to be seen. ****
10. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan: I have a weakness for a certain kind of medical memoir, and this is a perfect example. Lucidly and honestly written by a respected journalist, this is a stand out piece of creative non-fiction. *****


Well, there you have it. Yes, that was 10 books in 14 days, but half of them were genre, and I did spend over 25 hours on planes! I hope you enjoy my recommendations, and Happy New Year!

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